SUSIE O’BRIEN

TRY­ING TO WIN TEEN LINGO BINGO

Herald Sun - - NEWS - SUSIE O’BRIEN SUSIE O’BRIEN IS A HER­ALD SUN COLUM­NIST su­san.obrien@news.com.au @susieob

THEY SAY I’ll be there in a minute. THEY MEAN I’ll be there in many min­utes — as many as I can get away with. In fact, I am go­ing to ig­nore that you called me to come so many times in the hope you for­get all about what­ever triv­ial mat­ter you were go­ing to ask me to do.

IF you think air­pods are a type of pollen, Snapchat streaks are a form of nu­dity and Fort­nite is a mea­sure­ment of time, then chances are you don’t have a teenager liv­ing in your house.

Friends who have teens are tear­ing out their hair at this point in the school hol­i­days.

“He gets up at noon, raids the fridge then goes back to bed,” says one.

“She doesn’t go any­where or do any­thing,” says an­other.

“I can’t get him off his phone,” says a third. It’s a com­mon re­frain. If you think you’d have more luck get­ting your teen’s at­ten­tion if you looked like a French fry, re­lax. (Or as they’d say, chill). You are not alone.

Here’s a guide to de­cod­ing what’s re­ally go­ing on in our kids’ heads. You won’t be sur­prised to know there’s a big gap be­tween what they say and what they mean. They say: I’ll be there in a minute.

They mean: I’ll be there in many min­utes — as many as I can get away with. In fact, I am go­ing to ig­nore that you called me to come so many times in the hope you for­get all about what­ever triv­ial mat­ter you were go­ing to ask me to do.

They say: There’s never any­thing to eat in the house.

They mean: The fridge is full of left­overs (yuck) and healthy food like kale crisps. By telling you the fridge is empty, I am try­ing to make you feel un­wor­thy as a par­ent and thus more likely to let me get pizza for din­ner.

They say: I don’t have any home­work.

They mean: Well, I do have maths home­work but I don’t un­der­stand it and I am not a nerd like you who thinks home­work is nec­es­sary. You’d have to pull the Wi-Fi out of the house for me to do it tonight be­cause a new sea­son of 13 Rea­sons Why has just hit Net­flix and I need to work out why Han­nah did it. Maths isn’t on my

radar. Wait. What’s a radar? They say: I’m tired.

They mean: I know you just asked me to un­pack the dish­washer but I know that if I pre­tend to be tired for long enough you’ll get sick of the dirty dishes on the sink and do it your­self.

They say: Can I have some money to top up my Myki card?

They mean: I can’t ask for money for lunch from you be­cause you’ll ei­ther give me $4 in 20c pieces and ex­pect me to be grate­ful or you will make me a salad sand­wich to take with me. We both know I don’t ever use my Myki any­way when I catch the tram, but it’s a lie we both seem will­ing to keep go­ing for the sake of our re­la­tion­ship.

Par­ent: Why didn’t you an­swer my phone call? I was wor­ried. Teen says: The bat­tery ran out.

Teen means: I couldn’t be both­ered to take your call as I knew you’d freak given that you pay $70 a month for my phone and I have un­lim­ited calls and data and have my phone per­ma­nently at­tached to my palm, so there’s no real ex­cuse for you to get my mes­sage bank. Again.

Par­ent: Din­ner’s ready. Teen (who’s play­ing a video game) says: Just one more game.

Teen means: We both know games like this never end. If you let me, I’ll say ‘one more game’ for the next 48 hours.

Teen says: How about I sweep the front drive­way? Teen means: I’ve or­dered an HSP (Halal Snack Pack) with ex­tra mayo on your UberEats ac­count and need to be out the front when it’s de­liv­ered. Par­ent: Have you show­ered lately? Teen says: (sniffs armpits and makes a face) Nah, I’m good. Teen means: My armpit smells like some­thing died up there but I can put up with it if you can.

Don’t for­get there’s a cer­tain look teenagers re­serve for their par­ents when they’re forced to stop what they’re do­ing (even though it’s al­most cer­tainly noth­ing) and give them some face time. It’s a mix­ture of bore­dom, pity, amuse­ment and hunger.

Re­mem­ber, they’re not con­vers­ing with you, they’re just bid­ing time un­til they can get back on their phone/lap­top/video game.

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